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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

242        HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION

marks them out for oblivion. As a matter of fact, most of the
nine men whom Comenius mentions in this connection as seekers
after a better method of instruction are mere names to us. The
only one of them generally reckoned worthy to be remembered in
the history of education is Wolfgang Ratke (1571-1635), and his
chief claim to fame is in the fact that his work was the starting-
point of that of Comenius. And Comenius himself, the greatest
of the " methodizers," is a living force to this day, not because
of his methods (though they had elements of real value in them),
but because in his quest for them he raised many wider questions,
and developed a philosophy of education of enduring worth. In
this respect he stands alone, a great educator in an age of little
ones, j

John Amos Comenius (1592-1670) was born at Nivnitz in
Mdfavi^:'^Hi&iateF69t in education was awakened by the badness
of his own. After four years at a poor village school he went at
the advanced age of fifteen to study Latin at the grammar school
at Prerau with a view to the ministry of the Moravian Brethren.
This school was probably no worse than most schools of the
kind, but Comenius was older than the ordinary pupils and
consequently more ready to resent the defects of the teaching,
which condemned boys in the splendid years of youth to toil at
the study of languages without' proper textbooks and to waste
their time in the memorizing of unintelligible grammatical rules.
When he passed to the university of Herborn at the age of eighteen,
his mind was open to the suggestions for the improvement of
language teaching which were in the air; and the arguments
addressed by Ratke to the Imperial Diet of the German States in
1612 in advocacy of a reform of school instruction made a great
impression on him. At the age of twenty-two, after a year at
Heidelberg, he returned to his native country. But as he could
not receive ordination till he was twenty-four, he became master
of the school of the Moravian Brethren at Prerau and made his
first venture at educational innovation by writing a small text-
book on grammar on the lines of Ratke's method. The years
following his entrance on ministerial work were full of trouble
both for himself and for the Church to which he belonged. The
great war which broke out in 1618 brought speedy ruin to the
Protestant cause in Bohemia, and after many vicissitudes the
remnants of the Brethren were driven into permanent exile in